Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta admits he is concerned a lack of regular first-team football could be damaging the development of striker Eddie Nketiah.
England U21s’ record goalscorer has not featured for the Gunners since coming off the bench in the final minute of their goalless draw with Manchester United on January 30.
Nketiah, 21, has started just twice in the Premier League all season, scoring once, with captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Gabriel Martinelli ahead of him in the pecking order.
Despite the Arsenal academy graduate not making the bench for Sunday’s 3-1 victory at Leicester, Arteta was keen to praise Nketiah’s attitude amid his lack of minutes.
“This is one of the hazards to leave someone like Eddie out of the squad, but at the moment everybody has been fit and we have so many options up front,” Arteta said.
“But it hurts as well because of how Eddie behaves and trains every day and because he’s a player from our academy, but he will have his chance.
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“He needs to be patient and he’s showing no signs of lacking attitude or anything like that, it’s the complete opposite.
“He’s a joy to work with and he deserves minutes and if he doesn’t get it, it’s just my fault.”
Arsenal loaned Joe Willock and Ainsley Maitland-Niles to Newcastle and West Brom during the winter transfer window, but Nketiah, unlike Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe, has not had the opportunities to impress.
Asked if a lack of minutes could stunt his development, Arteta replied: “Yes there is because he needs to play and we’ve been wanting to use him a little bit more on some occasions and we didn’t.
“To be fair, when he’s played, he’s played well, but at his age and for what he’s done the last two or three seasons, he needs more minutes.
“It’s something we have to talk about openly and make the right decision.”
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